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An Analysis of Indie Board Games and What Makes Them Popular

There are quite a number of board games out there (some entertaining and some a headache). However, we see indie games pop up all of the time. There are even hobby shops dedicated to selling and introducing board games to their general area. Interestingly enough, these games do not seem to have the same media presence that more commercial board games enjoy (anything by Hasbro, for example), yet some games have become incredibly popular. Why is this? What makes them so much fun to pick up and play? Is this all handled by enthusiastic tabletop gamers who make it their only mission to bless the world with the games that they love?

It is worth exploring the indie board game world as a whole and it is worth looking at what makes them popular, despite their powerful competition.

Maybe this topic is just one more enthusiastic tabletop gamer’s attempt to bless the world with indie board games.

  • The popularity of indie board games seems to be a fairly recent trend, not that indie board games haven't been around for much longer. I think they were more popular until the invention of video games and that games from smaller creators and publishers have struggled to compete with the ubiquity of video games. Even a massively popular game like Settlers of Catan was released well after it was possible to own their own video game consoles in their homes. Hasbro and Parker Bros and the like had the benefit of starting when board games were about the most sophisticated forms of group home entertainment around. – chrischan 4 years ago
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  • I think looking at the rise of German style board games is important. One criticism I have of American style games that I played as a child was that you eliminated your opponents, so there would be a point where only two people are left in a 6-player game, and the end could take another hour to resolve. In a game like ticket to ride, settlers or scrabble everyone stays to the end. This keeps evreyone involved to the end, and makes games more fun to play. – ahalbert 4 years ago
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  • The whole indie board game culture appears to be rather new. This is unlike the Hasbro company that has been around a while longer. Although indie games do not get a lot of exposure, like hasbro games do, they still get a name for themselves. Games like Coup and Pandemic are being played by celebrities (Will Wheaton) as youtube channels and consequently kids and adults are spending their time watching these videos and it peaks their interests them and gets them involved in some way or another. – gamorth 4 years ago
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  • Every avid gamer thinks they can design a game, and sometimes it may not cost a lot to actually bring a blueprint to a playable format. Game design workshops and tournaments also pop up everywhere in the country. All this may explain the frequent release of indie games in the last two decades or so. It is, however, one thing that a game is playable but another thing that it is actually fun. I have play-tested a number of games and can affirm that game design is a grueling process: the mechanics, balance of power of different factions, balance of luck and skills, instructions, graphics, and so on. If you don't hate playing your game after this process, you probably haven't tested it enough. But if you can put all the pieces together and have an original idea, your game can become popular. The large gaming companies have the advantage of experience and a good sense of the market. Hence, indie games really need to be very good to take a share from them. – ctshng 3 months ago
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Published

Monopoly: Too Real to Play?

My family cannot play Monopoly. It is not a fun game during which we can laugh and enjoy quality time together. Instead we become cruel, building hotels as quickly as possible and holding vendettas against each other when someone won’t trade/sell a property with us. The desire to win with the most amount of money takes over and we forget about familial loyalty… and the fact that it is just a game.
But is it?
Is this a common theme that as soon as someone gets their first property, their first monopoly, builds their first house then hotel, they become more and more like the ruthless investors on Wall Street? Is this healthy or should Monopoly be removed from the shelves of toy stores and relocated to board rooms where said investment bankers can practice their strategies and the rest of society can be safe?

  • While on the one hand, you're not entirely wrong, on the other hand, neither my family or any other I've witnessed playing the game has ever metamorphosed into cruel and greedy people, treating each other in a way they would otherwise not. The way you describe it, your family completely changed personalities once exposed to a game about making the most money: it changed who they were. But is that really how it happens at your house, or are you just exaggerating this account in order to play up the topic for others to write about? Cause this seems a tad extreme and sensationalized if you ask me. – Jonathan Leiter 5 years ago
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  • I have experienced this game as both fun and ruthless. I guess the more important thing is, does your family go back to being fun loving when it's over? Or do they continue to hold grudges after the game is put away? If no grudge is held, I think it might even be beneficial to get out some family angst in a harmless game than in full blown arguments. – Tatijana 5 years ago
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  • Exactly, Tatijana. If Monopoly does not pit people against each other after the fact, then it could serve a great benefit as a cathartic tool, just like how platformer and adventure video-games help me to relax after a stressful day. – Jonathan Leiter 5 years ago
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  • This could be a worthwhile topic although it might be worth looking at other board games as well. – Jordan 5 years ago
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  • I agree with Jordan, a few other board games can cause equal amounts of stress and anger and they all might do so for the same reason. – Austin Bender 5 years ago
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  • I've learned that when games become like that it is time to take out a game everyone can enjoy. Take into consideration how personality clashes with an enjoyable evening. I have been accused of cheating at Pictionary because I draw well. Those people never will play it (one of my favorite games) with me again ;(.Ah well. It doesn't mean artists should be banned from playing. But, to avoid resentment, you just have to find a game that everyone likes. No need for stress. The game "Gloom," I recall, was created for the very purpose of making good things happen. – Candice Evenson 5 years ago
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